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Jackeline Dennis Uses Art to Highlight Social Issues

As a young child, new Anderson Artists Guild member Jackeline Dennis remembers being bored until her mother bought her a box of colored pencils. “On that box was a picture of a ballerina, and I decided to draw it,” she said. “What I drew looked nothing like that picture, but it looked like a ballerina. That’s when I fell in love with art.”

Another passion flowered in middle school when Dennis volunteered as an assistant in a class for students with special needs. She was challenged to help a student learn how to tie her shoes by the end of the year. “It was a struggle,” said Dennis, noting that after each weekend, the girl forgot the previous week’s instruction. Finally, though, she succeeded. “It was seemingly a small thing but such a wonderful moment for me and for her,” said Dennis.

She eventually earned an associate’s degree in general studies from Seminole Community College in Florida and worked for a doctor whose practice included physical therapy and Oriental medicine before training to become a Montessori teacher. But once her own children were born, Dennis left work to care for them.

Now, though, she’s back working with children with special needs, specifically as a behavioral therapist for those with autism. She mostly helps children in their homes with everything from buttoning a shirt to coping with social situations. “I love working with the kids and seeing their success,” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”

She has also returned to art, mostly with acrylics. Her favorite subject is people’s faces, which she usually exaggerates to make comments about social issues. An example is a drawing of a dirty child in whose eyes the viewer can see a child forced to work. In another, a girl’s eating disorder is evident from her visible ribs. “It’s not so easy to voice a lot of things,” she said. “I want people to know they’re not alone.”

One of her paintings hung for awhile in a jail. It showed a man looking out a barred window at a golden bridge.

She paints in a basement studio, where she feels at peace. “I forget about everything else,” she said.

She recently joined the AAG to find a community of like-minded souls.


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